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Screwtape slithers again (5)

Jesus went off to the Sea of Galilee with his disciples. A large crowd from Galilee followed. People heard about all that Jesus was doing. And many came to him. They came from Judea, Jerusalem, and Idumea. They came from the lands east of the Jordan River. And they came from the area around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd, Jesus told his disciples to get a small boat ready for him. This would keep the people from crowding him. Jesus had healed many people. So those who were sick were pushing forward to touch him. When people with evil spirits saw him, they fell down in front of him. The spirits shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus ordered them not to tell who he was. (Mark 3: 7)
Screwtape’s nephew is a junior demon being trained by his uncle Screwtape, a senior demon. Both were the creation of C S Lewis in a 1942 paperback. Today Screwtape’s nephew is distraught. The people he is keeping away from Jesus have been reading the above incident Mark’s first-century biography of Jesus. Now, as you can see, the life of Jesus, as described in that book, has become personal to him.  

Screwtape gives his advice. Pull yourself together, nephew. Yes, this Jesus, our great enemy, has triumphed over our rebellion against him. Yes, he is in command of us. But no. Neither your final time nor mine has yet come. We have work to do - work to keep in captivity as many people as we can as long as we can. Pull yourself together. You mustn’t value your own skin as much as I can see you do.

Concentrate, dear nephew, on your job. You must stop people becoming convinced about Jesus. You’re going to find, in Mark’s biography, something far worse than what’s troubling you today. It’s this. 

‘Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.’ (C S Lewis, Oxford Professor, The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
Some teachers of the law were there. They had come down from Jerusalem. They said, “He is controlled by Beelzebub! He is driving out demons by the power of the prince of demons.” So Jesus called them over and spoke to them by using parallels. 

He said, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom fights against itself, it can’t stand. If a family is divided, it can’t stand. And if Satan fights against himself, and his helpers are divided, he can’t stand. That is the end of him. In fact, none of you can enter a strong man’s house and just take what the man owns. You must first tie him up. Then you can rob his house.”
Screwtape continues. 

The Pharisees in AD 27 made a big mistake. Don’t you make that mistake. Of course, Jesus wasn’t Satan – but don’t tell your people that either. Be wise. Tell your people that Jesus was a good man. He was – but whisper that he can’t have been any more than that. Tell them he died like everyone else so he no longer exits Make them believe that he was only good – just like they’re good - and you’ll be home and dry. 

We both know that at his wretched cross he double-crossed us. We thought we’d got rid of him for ever but he defeated us. Yes, he has bound us with intangible chains and settled our eternal destiny. But the folk over whom you have controlling, persuasive powers don’t know that. Suggest to them that they’ll never be able to understand these unearthly things anyway. 

Then tell them to save the planet – before it’s too late. It is too late but they hope it isn’t. Keep them busy. Give them a raison d’etre. That way they’ll be diverted into a cause and not go about trying find meaning in Jesus, our double-crosser. Some want to have a good life; some want to live to do good for their children; but others need a cause celebre. Don’t give up, dear nephew. Keep turning or our numbers will be depleted.

‘Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.’ (“Screwtape” in The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
Above all, don’t let your people think about their days being numbered. They don’t want to hear that anyway. You’ll be pushing against an open door. You’ll even become popular when they find complete happiness in their own selves. Some hopes!

Your loving uncle, Screwtape.

Sinner Syvret

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